Born in the US; grew up in Germany

Greetings Everyone,

My case is a bit complicated so I’d very much appreciate some honest thoughts about my chances of obtaining a security clearance. So here’s my story: I’m currently an 18 y/o male high school graduate in the process of applying to a US university. I was born in Burlington, Iowa but I have never resided in the US. Both of my parents are dual nationals of Germany and Iran. While my parents were not directly persecuted in Iran at that time, they left the country due to its political situation. I have some family in the US but my immediate family resides in Europe and most of my extended family reside in Iran. My father is a doctor and my mother is a social worker, both living in Germany. My brother is currently studying medicine in Vienna, Austria.

I was born in the US because at the time my father was considering joining parts of his family in the US but he ultimately decided against it and moved back to Germany. That’s where I attended school and grew up pretty much all my life.

I now wish to return to the US, enroll in AFROTC and ultimately serve as an Officer in the Air Force but I understand that obtaining a security clearance is going to be my biggest hurdle. Due to Iranian law, I’m automatically an Iranian citizen and as such my parents have gotten me an Iranian passport so I could visit my grandparents in Iran. As far as I’m aware I’ve visited them twice, once when I was 9 and four years later at 13. My parents only ever got me an Iranian passport so I could safely visit my grandparents. After my visits I’ve gotten a bit more into politics and as such have actively decided against renewing my Iranian passport or having any real affiliation with Iran. I have no intention of visiting Iran ever again. My parents on the other hand actively travel to Iran, once a year, to visit their parents. My grandparents live in a small town and my parents have told me that none of my relatives have any affiliation with the government but I choose to not ask too many questions about my extended family in Iran. I feel like the less I know about them the better? I have a valid US SSN and have always held US passports which I’ve used for travel.

I feel no connection to Iran whatsoever and I wish I could officially renounce my Iranian citizenship. Sadly, there is no realistic way for Iranian nationals to officially renounce their citizenship. In the eyes of the Iranian government, you’ll always be a citizen. Of course, I’d be willing to hand over my expired passport and sign a form indicating that I have no intention of ever renewing it. I have little to no contact with my relatives in Iran, maybe a maximum of 4 times a year to say ‘hi’ while my mother is on the phone. I don’t know a single Iranian address or phone number. My knowledge of the Iranian language is very limited.

Growing up in Germany I’ve of course obtained a very long list of foreign contacts and to be honest I’m not sure who to list and who to leave out because that would obviously be a very long list. At age 16 I actively chose against obtaining German citizenship which would’ve required me to give up my US citizenship. You might not agree with my viewpoint or birthright citizenship in general, but I see myself as an American and as such feel incredibly blessed to have been born in the US and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. While I have officially no long-standing ties to the US other than some family members and my passports, I love the US and the values it represents and I can’t wait to permanently move back and hopefully serve as an officer. I don’t want to join AFROTC so I have to pay less tuition, I’ve been admitted to a German University and thus could obtain a degree without having to pay any tuition at all. I want to join AFROTC because it’s really my dream to serve and live in the US, the country I consider home. My German green card will expire once I reside in a country other than Germany for a period of 6 months or longer and I have no problem with that.

I’ve never been engaged in illegal activity other than smoking cannabis once shortly after turning 16. Although it was not illegal under German law it was illegal under US law and also highly immoral and I should’ve known better. I deeply regret the incident and I’ll, of course, be fully transparent about it. There’s no one to blame but myself.

I know my case is a complicated one but realistically, what would you say are my chances of obtaining a DoD security clearance? What are some necessary steps I should take in order to increase my chances? I have about 3 years until my clearance process starts. I plan on permanently moving to the US in the summer of 2019.

Many thanks in advance!


I’m not an adjudicator, just an investigator, but I’ve interviewed plenty of people with similar backgrounds such as yours. Iran isn’t the only country that won’t let a person “renounce” their citizenship. Nothing you can do about that. You’ll just be asked certain standard questions such as the reason for obtaining your passports (both foreign and U.S.) and whether you’re willing to willing to give them up, questions of that sort. You’ll also be asked about any foreign contacts that you list, such as your frequency of contact with them, nature of the relationship, etc. I wouldn’t be too worried about it especially since you are a U.S. Citizen. I wouldn’t be too worried about the marijuana use either.